Greg Pak, Jae Lee
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
The series that I wanted to hate is continuing to surprise me in ways I never thought imaginable. Sure, Jae Lee has always been one of my favorite artists, but he’s been primarily a Marvel or independent company guy in the past, so you can imagine my hesitation with him tackling my favorite characters. Obviously, there was no reason to be worried because, come on… He’s awesome. But Greg Pak is a hit-or-miss writer for me personally. I loved his Magneto: Testament and Red Skull: Incarnate for Marvel, but found World War Hulk, Chaos War, and a majority of his Hulk (later Hercules) run unreadable. Now, in retrospect, maybe that was co-writer Fred Van Lente’s fault, but hey, I’m human. Well, ranting and rambling aside, let me say that Pak is absolutely nailing the two main characters in this book. And he’s even evoking real reader emotions, which is hard to do this day and age with a comic book.
The story continues as we are introduced (officially) to the villain, a demon known as Kaiyo the Trickster. She’s plucking Supermen and Batmen from alternate realities, timelines, and universes and pitting them against one another. Simple enough. That’s literally the plot so far. So why does it work? Well, other than the fact that Lee’s artwork is truly unparalleled in the medium right now, the narration is absolutely perfect. Seriously. It feels like Jeph Loeb is back at DC with the way that Pak is writing both Clark and Bruce. He really gets them, which is refreshing, because a lot of writers in the New 52 era are great storytellers but always seem to forget that the difference between a good comic and a great one is the inner thoughts and feelings of the main character, or in this case, main characters. The scene with Bruce fighting himself is priceless in terms of dry humor and the scene with Martha Kent confronting her “son” from another time (or is it place?) is absolutely heartbreaking. The fact that Lois Lane introduces herself as Superman’s wife, just in time to be one-upped by Wonder Woman, Superman’s “friend” of this world is a nice nod to the past. Or is it the future? But before you can waste too much time wondering about such things as “what the hell is going on?” Wonder Woman viciously and violently attacks Lois, revealing that it is Kaiyo the Trickster masquerading as the Man of Steel’s bride. Oh, and she’s not a demon. She’s a goddess.
So the one thing I didn’t enjoy was the fact that I’m torn between thinking not enough happened in this issue or too much happened. And that’s entirely the fault of the creative team combined. Lee’s art is great and Pak’s dialogue and narration are perfect, but their art forms seem to be working against each other at times. Now, at the risk of getting far to meta in my thinking, I’ll just leave it at saying I’m confused more than I’m not. But that’s okay because, like I said, it’s still awesome and I am enjoying myself. And maybe it’s on purpose. After all, Batman and Superman don’t really make sense to be together, when you really think about it, so why would the artist and writer be a perfect match? And the fact that they’re fighting a trickster just enforces the fact that chaos is the new normal. On a side note, I also enjoyed the lack of jarring art changes for the last half of the book, which was my chief complaint about the premiere issue. That was helpful. But now that Wonder Woman’s here, I have to wonder if this is really going to be a Batman/Superman title and not a Wonder Woman kicking ass in a title that’s not her own comic. I’d be okay with one issue of that, but not the rest of the storyline. Regardless, I’m excited to see what Pak and Lee have in store for us in the issues to come.
My Rating: 4/5